Presenting: 2021 Incubated Charities (Charity Entrepreneurship) 2021-10-07T11:06:46.634Z
Why EA meta, and the top 3 charity ideas in the space 2021-01-06T15:47:47.187Z
What areas are the most promising to start new EA meta charities - A survey of 40 EAs 2020-12-23T12:24:57.494Z
Announcement: applications for the 2021 Charity Entrepreneurship Incubation Program are now open! 2020-12-15T10:43:09.042Z
Five New EA Charities with High Potential for Impact 2020-10-14T12:15:26.666Z
Announcement: applications for the 2020 Charity Entrepreneurship Incubation Program are now open! 2020-03-18T13:11:39.766Z
Comparing Four Cause Areas for Founding New Charities 2020-01-24T12:58:18.590Z
Announcement: early applications for Charity Entrepreneurship’s 2020 Incubation Program are now open! 2019-12-16T09:32:52.037Z
Cause X Guide 2019-09-01T16:58:18.691Z
A guide to improving your odds at getting a job in EA 2019-03-19T13:11:59.494Z
Why we look at the limiting factor instead of the problem scale 2019-01-28T19:12:34.114Z
The Importance of Time Capping 2018-12-28T17:02:41.207Z
Which animals need the most help from the animal advocacy movement? 2018-12-04T20:29:07.454Z
High welfare meat - CE ask report 2018-11-22T17:12:14.573Z
Is it better to be a wild rat or a factory farmed cow? A systematic method for comparing animal welfare. 2018-09-17T23:55:51.869Z
How to make an impact in animal advocacy, a survey. 2018-08-27T00:42:20.437Z
Problems with EA representativeness and how to solve it 2018-08-03T19:25:02.371Z
Introducing Charity Entrepreneurship: an Incubation and Research Program for New Charities 2018-06-05T23:51:54.705Z
Why EAs in particular are good people to start charities 2018-05-30T20:41:26.915Z
Triple counting impact in EA 2018-05-26T23:00:16.677Z
Why founding charities is one of the highest impact things one can do 2018-05-13T20:13:10.400Z
The Importance of EA Dedication and Why it Should Be Encouraged 2018-05-06T00:39:43.833Z
Empirical data on value drift 2018-04-22T23:31:00.407Z
When to focus and when to re-evaluate 2018-03-24T21:18:03.897Z
Why we should be doing more systematic research 2018-03-14T18:58:52.912Z
How scale is often misused as a metric and how to fix it 2018-01-30T01:36:45.368Z
How to get a new cause into EA 2018-01-10T06:41:47.857Z
Charity Science Health has room for more funding 2017-11-29T23:28:04.498Z
Talent gaps from the perspective of a talent limited organization. 2017-11-03T04:41:28.760Z
Setting our salary based on the world’s average GDP per capita 2017-08-26T19:57:30.492Z
EAs are not perfect utilitarians 2017-01-29T20:31:19.188Z
Charity Science Effective Legacies 2016-12-29T23:18:20.338Z
Charity Science Health receives GiveWell Experimental grant and other updates 2016-11-16T20:28:42.966Z
Effective Legacies have arrived! 2016-06-06T19:04:47.360Z
Starting charities: When to Do it Yourself, Hire, and Inspire? 2016-06-02T00:30:08.809Z
$500 prize for anybody who can change our current top choice of intervention 2016-05-11T02:21:05.849Z
Charity Entrepreneurship Research Summary 2016-03-21T17:47:45.904Z
Charity Science 2.5 Year Internal Review and Plans Going Forward 2016-02-26T16:37:10.089Z
Request for feedback on research process (Charity Entrepreneurship) 2016-01-19T05:20:41.989Z
Donate Your Christmas to GiveWell Charities! 2015-12-10T19:56:58.422Z
New project announcement: Charity Entrepreneurship! 2015-11-28T02:01:31.845Z
Boost Your Impact by Matching for the Christmas Fundraiser 2015-10-16T18:34:17.724Z
You Can Now Make Any Event a Fundraiser for Effective Charities 2015-09-12T18:17:19.298Z
Charity Science Updates 2015-08-17T00:11:32.288Z
Charity Science is hiring 2015-07-27T18:38:42.190Z
Charity Science job opening! 2015-04-16T03:00:34.329Z
Comparative Bias 2014-11-05T05:57:04.588Z
Charity Science's first annual review: how effective is fundraising? 2014-10-21T07:45:38.200Z
Meetup : How to Evaluate a Charity Meetup 2014-10-20T21:58:52.957Z


Comment by Joey on Should EA be explicitly long-termist or uncommitted? · 2022-01-11T17:48:51.644Z · EA · GW

"Organisations should be open about where they stand in relation to long-termism."

Agree strongly with this. One of the most common reasons I hear for people reacting negatively to EA is feeling tricked by self-described "cause open organizations" that really just focus on a single issue (normally AI).

Comment by Joey on Democratising Risk - or how EA deals with critics · 2021-12-29T01:35:50.311Z · EA · GW

"Please don't criticize central figures in EA because it may lead to an inability to secure EA funding?" I have heard this multiple times from different sources in EA. 

Comment by Joey on Do research organisations make theory of change diagrams? Should they? · 2021-11-26T16:57:35.837Z · EA · GW


Comment by Joey on Free workspace for EA researchers in London · 2021-11-04T20:56:20.990Z · EA · GW

We (Charity Entrepreneurship) have considered doing something like this. Would love to see the results and to know what locations you are considering. We are in west London.

Comment by Joey on AMA: Tim Ferriss, Michael Pollan, and Dr. Matthew W. Johnson on psychedelics research and philanthropy · 2021-05-17T09:46:58.051Z · EA · GW

1) Where do you see untapped opportunities for nonprofit entrepreneurs in the space of mental health?

2) What role do you see entrepreneurs (vs. established organizations) play in this field, including incubation programs like that has incubated mental health charities before?

3) How do you assess the potential of new mental health treatments for the Global South? Is this sufficiently prioritized and do you see particular roadblocks to rapid adoption?

Comment by Joey on Why start a family planning charity? (Founders needed) · 2021-04-02T22:44:24.959Z · EA · GW

Hey Larks, thanks for the great comment. I think it gets at some key assumptions one has to consider when evaluating this as an intervention. We didn’t end up going into that in this post, but happy to cover it below.

I both see the scenario in which the benefits outweigh the costs (the one in which we are happy to incubate this charity), and I also see scenarios where the costs are higher than the benefits (in that case we wouldn't recommend it). Specifically: 

Existing people get the benefit of building relationships with these new people.

When you consider the context of the families that an intervention such as this would be impacting I think the benefits you layed out are a lot smaller (to the point they do not largely change the calculation). They are typically families with large family size (my expectation is that the 4th child or grandchild does not carry the same weight as the first, particularly when it comes to long term support of the family). 

Division of Labour - whereby people specialise in one specific area they become more efficient at it. The larger the population, the more specialisation it can support.

They are also typically in low-income jobs with limited specialization (often family planning is most needed in families earning income from primary agriculture). I expect that averting unwanted pregnancy frees up the income of the household to spend on the current family, e.g. on more education opportunities or a more nutritious diet that has further positive flow-through effects on the family. I think this same education confounder also cross-applies to creating more artists and scientists. It's not at all clear to me that net higher population vs higher average education but smaller families would result in this.   

Many things have increasing returns to scale, and so are more efficient with larger populations 

Although I have some sympathy for the economies of scale arguments, I think depending on the country the efficiency effects of having a very young or rapidly growing population trade off against this in quite an unfavourable way. I also think there are less economies of scale in less connected and more rural settings. (E.g. things like electricity or water have limited scale in these locations.) I also expect these benefits to be quite small relative to the current factors we consider.  

It is of course possible that these benefits might be outweighed by the costs outlined in the report. But we cannot simply assume  that this is the case. 

When we are modelling cost-effectiveness on that sheet we are not aiming to take into account all of the externalities, but rather compare between interventions within family-planning, so you probably won’t find them there. We would use a different methodology to take them into account. But I take your point about the broader cost-benefit considerations. 

 As life is good for most people, this is a major advantage. They get to experience the joys of playing and growing and love and all the other good things in the world.

I do think you have hit on the really key assumption that can change one’s model of family planning though. “Life is good for most people”. We spend a considerable amount of time and work thinking about it and I agree that there is a lot of moral and epistemic uncertainty around the issue. It is probably the hardest thing to take into account when it comes to the assessment of moral weights of various outcomes. Depending on how one takes it, it can either result in 60 years equivalent of utility or disutility. However, I think again we have to look at the population very closely. Populations that do not have access to family planning information or counselling are more likely to have lower happiness levels. The country our last family planning charity chose to work in is Nigeria, where the average happiness goes up and down between 5 and 6 out of 10. Another country we recommend is Senegal, where the numbers are even lower. But I would say even this data is not precise enough as even within countries populations without access to family planning are typically far lower income than average. Also, the child whose existence would be prevented would be a child the family would prefer not to have, and this seems likely to have an effect on the average happiness of both the child and the family. We know the SD of happiness in Nigeria is pretty large ~2.5 (this variation is also typical across other locations). It's hard to know exactly what happiness that person would have over their life. It could easily be in the 3-4/10 range. If you think a year lived at 3-4 is net positive and something you would want to create more of, then indeed this is a huge factor against family planning. If you think its net negative then its a huge factor in favour. I think this is one of the key ethical questions. It comes down a lot more to do with positive vs negative leaning utilitarianism and how you view various weightings of subjective well being. This is a factor we considered a lot when thinking about it and although I think there are defendable different perspectives our team generally came down on the side of this effect being a net positive for family planning (some more info here). 

I do think we could have made improvements to the report to make some of these judgement calls more clear and bring people's attention to the factors that affect the analysis significantly. We do tend to discuss these considerations and outline when the results of the general judgement about family planning may differ according to some ethical or empirical differences in much greater depth with incubatees who are considering working in these areas and it’s indeed a complex issue, because of this we have typically found it it easier to discuss it in conversation rather than in writing. I agree that the report could have been better written to take that into account. 

Comment by Joey on Why EA meta, and the top 3 charity ideas in the space · 2021-01-20T11:58:39.356Z · EA · GW
  1. Your intuitions are right here that these skills are not unique to EA, and I am generally thinking of skills that are not exclusive to EA. I would expect this training organization not to create a ton of original content so much as to compile, organize and prioritize existing content. For example, the org might speak to ten people in EA operations roles, and based on that information find the best existing book and online course that if absorbed would set someone up for that role. So I see the advantage as being, more time to select and combine existing resources than an individual would have. I also think that pretty small barriers (e.g. price of a professional course, not having peers who share the same goals, lack of confidence that this content is useful for the specific jobs they are aiming for) currently stop people from doing professional training. And that the many common paths to professional training (e.g. PhD programs) are too slow to readily adapt to the needs of EA. I would generally expect the gaps in EA to move around quite a bit year to year. 
  2. I think certification or proof of ability is a non-trivial part. The second half of our Incubation Program puts the earlier training into action through working on projects that are publicly shareable and immediately useful for the charity. I would guess that a training focused organization would also have a component like a capstone project at the end of each course. 

I would also note that I think just giving EAs the ability to coordinate and connect with each other while learning seems pretty valuable. A lot of EAs are currently ruled out of top jobs in the space due to not being “trusted” or known by others in the EA movement. I think providing more ins for people to get connected seems quite valuable and would not happen with e.g. a local Toastmasters.

Comment by Joey on Lessons from my time in Effective Altruism · 2021-01-18T17:56:06.719Z · EA · GW

I think the majority of unusual empirical beliefs that came to mind were more in the longtermist space. In some ways these are unusual at even a deeper level than the suggested beliefs e.g. I think EAs generally give more credence epistemically to philosophical/a priori evidence, Bayesian reasoning, sequence thinking, etc.

If I think about unusual empirical beliefs Charity Entrepreneurship has as well, it would likely be something like the importance of equal rigor, focusing on methodology in general, or the ability to beat the charity market using research. 

In both cases these are just a couple that came to mind – I suspect there are a bunch more.

Comment by Joey on Lessons from my time in Effective Altruism · 2021-01-16T09:31:53.714Z · EA · GW

"I now believe that less work is being done by these moral claims than by our unusual empirical beliefs, such as the hinge of history hypothesis, or a belief in the efficacy of hits-based giving. " 

This is also a view I have moved pretty strongly towards. 

Comment by Joey on Why EA meta, and the top 3 charity ideas in the space · 2021-01-11T17:49:40.044Z · EA · GW

Thanks for this – I checked out the full list when the post went up. 

We will be researching increasing development aid and possibly researching getting money out of politics and into charity as our focus moves to more policy-focused research for our 2022 recommendations. 

We also might research epistemic progress in the future, but likely from a meta science-focused perspective.

We definitely considered non-Western EA when thinking through EA meta options, but ended up with a different idea for how to best make progress on it (see here).

For-profit companies serving emerging markets I see as a very interesting space but a whole different research year from EA meta. Maybe even outside of CE’s scope indefinitely.

I do not expect us to research Patient Philanthropy, Institutions for Future Generations, Counter-Cyclical Donation Timing or Effective Informational Lobbying in the near future. 

In general, I do not expect our research on EA meta to be exhaustive given the scope. I would be excited to see more ideas for EA meta projects, particularly ones with quick and clear feedback loops.

Comment by Joey on Why EA meta, and the top 3 charity ideas in the space · 2021-01-11T15:40:05.139Z · EA · GW

Indeed I have seen that post. I would be keen for more than one group to research this sort of area. I can also imagine different groups coming at it from different epistemic and value perspectives. I expect this research could be more than a full-time job for 5+ people.

Comment by Joey on Five New EA Charities with High Potential for Impact · 2021-01-09T08:44:00.437Z · EA · GW

Good question. We keep the information updated on room for funding on this page.

Comment by Joey on Why EA meta, and the top 3 charity ideas in the space · 2021-01-07T11:02:12.192Z · EA · GW

Indeed these sorts of issues will be covered in the deeper reports but it’s still valuable to raise them!

A really short answer to an important question: I would expect the research to be quite a bit deeper than the typical proposal – more along the lines of what Brian Tomasik did for wild animal suffering or Michael Plant did for happiness. But not to the point where the researchers found an organization themselves (as with Happier Lives Institute or Wild Animal Initiative). E.g. spending ~4 FT researcher months on a given cause area. 

I agree that a big risk would be that this org closes off or gives people the idea that “EA has already looked into that and it should not longer be considered”. In many ways, this would be the opposite of the goal of the org so I think would be important to consider when it’s being structured. I am not inherently opposed to researching and then ruling out ideas or cause areas, but I do think the EA movement currently tends to quickly rule out an area without thorough research and I would not want to increase that trend. I would want an org in this space to be really clear what ground they have covered vs not. For example, I like how GiveWell lays and out and describes their priority intervention reports.

Comment by Joey on What areas are the most promising to start new EA meta charities - A survey of 40 EAs · 2020-12-24T09:05:57.640Z · EA · GW

Our current plan is to publish a short description but not a full report of the top ideas we plan to recommend in the first week of Jan so possible applicants can get a sense before the deadline (Jan 15th).

Comment by Joey on What areas are the most promising to start new EA meta charities - A survey of 40 EAs · 2020-12-23T18:34:49.916Z · EA · GW

Glad you found it interesting!

  1. It tended to come from people focused on that area but the concerns were not exclusive to technologies (or even xrisk more broadly). 
  2. To put it another way, people were concerned that “EAs tended to help their friends and others in their adjacent peer-group disproportionality to the impact it would cause.” 
  3. Regarding polarization in "Intercommunity coordination and connection," my sense is this came from different perceptions about how past projects had gone. No clear trend as to why for “community member improvement”
  4. I think the way this is reconciled is the view that “current organizations are highly capable and do prioritization research themselves when determining where they should work.” But prioritization including that type is hard to do right and others would struggle to do an equally good job.

P.s. reminder these are not my or CE’s views just describing what some interviewees thought. 

Comment by Joey on What areas are the most promising to start new EA meta charities - A survey of 40 EAs · 2020-12-23T18:23:58.450Z · EA · GW

I agree I was expecting a much stronger consensus as well. Sorry to say I told the folks I interviewed the data would remain at this level of anonymity many were fine with sharing their results but some preferred it to be pretty anonymous.

Number scores are based on people ranking the option above or below average with 3 being average. 

Comment by Joey on What areas are the most promising to start new EA meta charities - A survey of 40 EAs · 2020-12-23T18:23:39.523Z · EA · GW

Sadly not able to share that data I can say it tended to be bigger organizations and bigger chapters. 

Comment by Joey on An experiment to evaluate the value of one researcher's work · 2020-12-01T11:47:36.368Z · EA · GW

Happy to have my posts used for this. One thing I would love to see integrated would be a willingness to pay metric as we have been experimenting with this a bit in our research process and have found it quite useful. 

Comment by Joey on What is a book that genuinely changed your life for the better? · 2020-10-22T09:45:42.851Z · EA · GW

Great question. Keen to see other people’s recommendations. We have a list of some of our team’s favorites organized into categories – can be seen on the website here or below. My personal top 5 are Principles, Made to Stick, The Life You Can Save, Algorithms to Live By, and The Lean Startup.

Charity entrepreneurship

Values and ethics


Making good decisions 



Getting things done



Comment by Joey on How have you become more (or less) engaged with EA in the last year? · 2020-10-21T08:47:38.855Z · EA · GW

A few examples:
- Introduction of new cause areas (e.g. mental health, WAS) 
- Debates about key issues (e.g. INT framework issues, flaws of the movement)
- More concrete issues vs philosophical ones (e.g. how important is outreach, what % of EAs should earn to give)

I think the bar I generally compare EA to is, do I learn more from reading the EA forum per minute than from reading a good nonfiction book? Some years this has definitely been true but it has been less true in recent years.

Comment by Joey on Making More Sequences · 2020-10-21T08:23:52.121Z · EA · GW

This could be turned into one quite quickly

Comment by Joey on Ramiro's Shortform · 2020-09-30T16:09:04.667Z · EA · GW

Hey Ramiro and Thomas,

Thanks for your engagement with this system. I think in general our system has lots of room for improvement - we are in fact working on refining it right now. However, I am pretty strongly in favor of having evaluation systems even if the numbers are not based on all the data we would like them to be or even if they come to surprising results.

Cross species comparison is of course very complex when it comes to welfare. Some factors are fairly easy to measure across species (such as death rates) while others are much more difficult (diseases rates are a good example of where it's hard to find good data for wild animals). I can imagine researchers coming to different conclusions given the same initial data.

It’s worth underlining that our system does not aim to evaluate the moral weight of a given species, but merely to assess a plausible state of welfare. (Thomas: this would be one caveat to add when sharing.) In regards to moral weight (e.g. what moral weight do we accord a honey bee relative to a chicken etc.) – that is not really covered by our system. We included the estimates of probability of consciousness per Open Phil’s and Rethink Priorities’ reports on the subject, but the moral weight of conscious human and non-human animals is a heavily debated topic that the system does not go into. Generally I recommend Rethink Priorities’ work on the subject.

In regards to welfare, I think it's conceptually possible that e.g. a well treated pet dog in a happy family may be happier and their life more positive than a prisoner in a North Korean concentration camp. This may seem unintuitive, but I also find the inverse conclusion unintuitive. As mentioned above, that doesn’t mean that we should be prioritizing our efforts on improving the welfare of pet dogs vs. humans in North Korea. Prioritizing between different species is a complex issue, of which welfare comparisons like this index may form one facet without being the only tool we use.

To cover some of the specific claims.

- Generally, I think there is some confusion here between the species having control vs the individual. For example, North Korea as a country has a very high level of control over their environment, and can shape it dramatically more than a tribe of chimps can. However, each individual in North Korea has extremely limited personal control over their life – often having less free time and less scope for action than a wild chimp would practically (due to the constraints of the political regime) if not theoretically (given humanity’s capabilities as a species).

- We are not evaluating hunter gatherers, but people in an average low-income country. Life satisfaction measures show that in some countries, self-evaluated levels of subjective well-being are low. (Some academics even think that this subjective well-being could be lower than those of hunter gatherer societies.)

- Humanity has indeed spent a great deal more on diagnosing humans than chimps. However, there is some data on health that is comparable, particularly when it comes to issues that are clearer to observe such as physical disability.

- There is in fact some research on hunger and malnutrition in wild chimps, so this was not based on intuitions but on best estimates of primatologists. Malnourishment in chimps can be measured in some similar ways to human malnourishment, e.g. stunting of growth. I do think you’re right that concerns with unsafe drinking water could be factored into the disease category instead of the thirst one.

I would be keen for more research to be done on this topic but I would expect it to take a few hours of research into chimp welfare and a decent amount of research into human welfare to get a stronger sense than our reports currently offer. I think these sorts of issues are worth thinking about and we would like to see more research being done using such a system that aims to evaluate and compare the welfare of different species. Thank you again for engaging with the system - we’ll bear your comments in mind as we work on improvements.

Comment by Joey on How have you become more (or less) engaged with EA in the last year? · 2020-09-11T10:42:06.980Z · EA · GW

Equally or more focused on doing good but less involved with the EA movement. Broadly I am less sold that engaging with the EA movement is the best way to increase knowledge or impact. This is due to a bit of an intellectual slowdown in EA, with fewer concepts being generated that connect to impact and a bit of perceived hostility towards near-term causes (which I think are the most impactful).

Comment by Joey on 2020 Top Charity Ideas - Charity Entrepreneurship · 2020-08-28T10:20:13.717Z · EA · GW

Hey Charles, we don’t prioritize long termist projects as we do not think they are the highest impact (for epistemic not ethical reasons). This view is pretty common in EA, but most people who hold this perspective do not engage much on the EA forum. In the future we might write more on it.

We have recommended meta charities in the past (e.g. animal careers) and expect to recommend more in the future. There are some people considering a long-term/AI focused incubator, so this might be a project that happens at some point.

Comment by Joey on Do research organisations make theory of change diagrams? Should they? · 2020-07-22T08:55:18.411Z · EA · GW

Sadly don’t have time to go into much depth on this, but we strongly recommend it to all charities that run through our CE program (including all the research orgs) and create a ToC for each idea we research.

Comment by Joey on What should Founders Pledge research? · 2019-09-17T08:59:44.610Z · EA · GW

Here are a few different areas that look promising. Some of these are taken from other organizations’ lists of promising areas, but I expect more research on each of them to be high expected value.

  • Donors solely focused on high-income country problems.
    • Mental health research (that could help both high and low income countries).
    • Alcohol control
    • Sugar control
    • Salt control
    • Trans-fats control
    • Air pollution regulation
    • Metascience
    • Medical research
    • Lifestyle changes including "nudges" (e.g. more exercise, shorter commutes, behaviour, education)
    • Mindfulness education
    • Sleep quality improvement
  • Donors focused on animal welfare.
    • Wild animal suffering (non-meta, non-habitat destruction) interventions
    • Animal governmental policy, particularly in locations outside of the USA and EU.
    • Treat disease that affects wild animals
    • Banning live bait fish
    • Transport and slaughter of turkeys
    • Pre-hatch sexing
    • Brexit related preservation of animal policy
  • Donors focused on improving the welfare of the current generation of humans.
    • Pain relief in poor countries
    • Contraceptives
    • Tobacco control
    • Lead paint regulation
    • Road traffic safety
    • Micronutrient fortification and biofortification
    • Sleep quality improvement
    • Immigration reform
    • Mosquito gene drives, advocacy, and research
    • Voluntary male circumcision
    • Research to increase crop yields
Comment by Joey on Update on the Vancouver Effective Altruism Community · 2019-05-17T15:30:25.841Z · EA · GW

Slight correction: The Charity Entrepreneurship program will be based in London, UK this year.

Comment by Joey on A guide to improving your odds at getting a job in EA · 2019-03-21T11:09:55.414Z · EA · GW

When I was writing this, I was mostly comparing it to other highly time consuming activism (e.g. many people are getting a degree hoping it will help them acquire an EA job). In terms of being the optimal thing for EA organizations to look for, I do not really have a view on that. I was more so hoping to level the understanding between people who have a pretty good sense that this sort of information is what you need, and people who might think that this would be worth far less than, say, a degree from a prestigious university.

Comment by Joey on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-04T17:58:04.606Z · EA · GW

Ok given multiple people think this is off I have changed it to 3 hours to account for variation in application time.

Comment by Joey on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-04T14:35:54.670Z · EA · GW

My sense is they already had a CV that required very minimal customization and spent almost all the time on the cover letter.

Comment by Joey on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-02T15:35:13.931Z · EA · GW

It came from asking ~4 successful employees who where hired

Comment by Joey on After one year of applying for EA jobs: It is really, really hard to get hired by an EA organisation · 2019-03-02T10:42:03.245Z · EA · GW

The following is a rough breakdown of the percentage of people who were not asked to move on to the next round in the Charity Science hiring process. These numbers assume one counterfactual hour of preparation for each interview and no preparation time outside of the given time limit for test tasks.

~3* hour invested (50%) - Cover letter/resume
~5 hours invested (20%) - Interview 1
~10 hours invested (15%) - Test task 1
~12 hours invested (5%) - Interview 2
~17 hours invested (5%) - Test task 2
~337 hours invested (2.5%) - paid 2-month work trial
Hired (2.5%)

So, 95% of those not hired spend 17 hours or less, 85% spend 14 hours or less, and 70% spend 5 hours or less.

*changed from 1 hour to 3 hours based on comments

Comment by Joey on Why we look at the limiting factor instead of the problem scale · 2019-02-02T01:35:15.148Z · EA · GW

Hey Abraham,

The endline goal of any piece of evaluation criteria is to be able to be used to best predict “good done”. I broadly agree that one criteria factor is unlikely to rule in or out an intervention fully (including limiting factor - it was one of four in our system). If we know a criteria that was that powerful there would be no need for complex evaluation.

Although limiting factor is not a pure hard limit I do not think this changes its usefulness much; an intervention might be low evidence, and in theory multiple RCTs could be done to improve this, but in practice if there is say a limiting factor on funding (such that multiple RCTs could not be funded) the intervention might be indefinitely low evidenced even if in theory evidence is not an independent of movement factor. It seems fairly clear that all things being equal running an intervention will be easier than running an equivalent intervention that also requires you to build a field of talent or otherwise work on a limiting factor.

In principle I think this could be put into a more numerical form (e.g. included in CEA), but I think in practice this has not been done. Historically maybe the closest is different levels of funding gaps that Givewell has put for there top charities, but that is mostly considering a single possible limiting factor (funding). I would love to see more models on limiting factor and think it would be a natural next step in the current EA talent vs funding conversations.

A different way to think about this question is do we think problem scale or limiting factor are better predictors of areas where the most good can be done? I pretty strongly disagree that problem scale is more important than the limiting factor that will hit an intervention. Theoretically scale of the problem is a harder limit but that doesn't really matter if in practice an intervention is never capped by it. We ended up looking at quite a number of charities to consider what was stopping them (including GiveWell and ACE recommendations) and none of them seemed to be capped by problem scale, they had all been stopped by other limiting factors far before that became an issue (for example, with AMF it was funding and logistical bottlenecks not the number of people with malaria). I think this is even true for the specific case of wild suffering interventions. The absolute number of bugs does not matter much when considering ethical pest control so much as the density per hectare of field or the available funding for a humane insecticides charity. You could imagine a world where the bug populations of colder locations (such as Canada and Russia) where close to 0 and it would do very little to affect the estimated good done- broadly due to having a ton of work to do in warmer locations before one would expand to Canada and likely hitting many limiting factors before expanding that far. How soon these problems hit would be more predictive of impact than if there were twice or half as many bugs in the world as there are now.

I think historical evidence like “if this was not done X would not never have happened” is not a very strong argument unless some research is done systematically and compares both the hits and misses that occured (e.g. there where a lot of issues that were attempted to be founded but never got traction at that same point in time). To take a more clear example you could look a friend who won the lottery, and although clearly he benefited from his ticket it still would have been the wrong call from an expected value perspective to buy it, and certainly would not suggest you should buy a lottery ticket we have to be careful of survivorship bias. Mainly we are looking at factors that are predictive of something having the most impact and singular examples do not describe much about field building vs making quicker progress on a more established field. Although I would be really interested in more systematic research in this area.

Comment by Joey on Why we look at the limiting factor instead of the problem scale · 2019-01-30T23:16:16.867Z · EA · GW

Good idea, I added CE to the first use of "we".

Comment by Joey on [deleted post] 2019-01-17T22:11:01.718Z

Comment by Joey on Cause profile: mental health · 2018-12-31T22:30:54.369Z · EA · GW

Really interesting post, but I do want to flag a big concern I have in the comparative calculation. Broadly, estimated effects are almost always just going to be way more positive than well studied effects. For example if you estimated GD’s impact using standard income vs happiness adjustment measures (e.g. the value of double someone's income on their happiness) you end up at a much higher number than the RCT results. I think this sort of thing happens pretty consistently and predictability. For example, it would be really easy to imagine Strong Minds treatments are different enough from the most studied ways of doing CBT for the treatment effects to only persist 1 year (which would reduce the cost-effectiveness to about equal), and it's easy to imagine several such changes (almost all going in a more pessimistic direction).

On the flip side, there has been extensive research, evaluation and huge numbers of charities founded in the global health space leading to a comparatively very small number of super strong charities, many of which are explicitly focused on cost-effectiveness/impact, etc. This same work (as far as I know) has not been done in the mental health area. In many ways, you are comparing a very strong global poverty charity to a much more average mental health charity. Thus personally I would not necessarily need to see a current mental health charity beating GiveWell’s best to be convinced the area as a whole could be very effective (if some strong research, evaluations and impact focused charities) were founded or identified in the area. Given my current work with Charity Entrepreneurship, the main case I am considering is if a new well researched and impact focused charity in mental health could be competitive with GiveWell top charities in effectiveness. I feel like the posts you have made over time have made this claim seem pretty plausible.

Comment by Joey on Quality of life of farm animals · 2018-12-14T19:29:15.656Z · EA · GW

Our team has fairly recently done pretty similar work to what you are describing. You can see it here

Comment by Joey on From humans in Canada to battery caged chickens in the United States, which animals have the hardest lives: results · 2018-12-07T19:33:58.811Z · EA · GW

When we looked at larger groups like fish or bugs we looked for species that were a) more studied and b) more populous. For example, for bugs this tended to be ants, bees, flies, and beetles. Overall though we tried to get a score that we felt would be consistent with “a random unknown bug is killed by an insecticide. What was the welfare score of that bug?”

We only set aside enough time to cover a certain number of animals, and we did not think looking at most regional differences was as important as covering more animals. We will be releasing a table with some specific welfare changes (e.g. animals raised without any physical alterations) which will shed a bit of light on some regional differences. That being said, I expect the broadest level conclusions (e.g. prioritizing fish) to hold across different locations.

Thanks. It indeed looks like that was taken from a report on the breeders.

Comment by Joey on Which animals need the most help from the animal advocacy movement? · 2018-12-07T19:32:15.273Z · EA · GW

Wild rat indeed includes rats that live in cities and apartments (as long as they are not domesticated/pet rats). We definitely considered causes of death by humans (which for rats was quite a sizable percentage of their deaths) and our next report is in fact on ethical pest control, including possibilities like more ethical rodenticides and legal changes to move people from sticky to snap traps.

Comment by Joey on Which animals need the most help from the animal advocacy movement? · 2018-12-05T20:50:37.280Z · EA · GW

So on #1, there have been some discussions of this but out team was not convinced of the arguments enough to include a factor involving it into our analysis. You can see more here and on the links at the bottom of that post. It would change things quite a bit. We have not done the calculation but off the top of my head I would expect it would impact insects most significantly with other animals moving up or down a category e.g. cows might move to mid but I would not expect them to move to high.

Comment by Joey on Which animals need the most help from the animal advocacy movement? · 2018-12-05T20:50:14.866Z · EA · GW

On #2, indeed our research is mostly focused around which charities should be founded in the animal space. That being said, I do think it cross applies. For example, I would far prefer someone to eat beef and give up chicken than the opposite. For giving up different food categories I think it would go something like Fish > Chicken > Eggs > Pork > Beef > Milk > Cheese in order of importance based on both the animal welfare and the amount of animals it takes to form a meal (e.g. 1 chicken or 0.01 cows).

Comment by Joey on From humans in Canada to battery caged chickens in the United States, which animals have the hardest lives: results · 2018-11-29T05:23:01.794Z · EA · GW


In terms of other animals that could be quite net positive, large herbivores and predators at the top of their food chain with relative abundance of food (e.g. elephants, moose, whales and dolphins) would be my guess, but we did not go deep into any of those animals. Some domestic animals (e.g. well treated dogs and cats) also seem plausible to have pretty net positive lives.

Comment by Joey on How to make an impact in animal advocacy, a survey. · 2018-11-06T21:14:28.078Z · EA · GW

Sadly I was pretty specific with what data I was going to publish and this is it. I suspect that identities of some people could be determined with the full raw data so can understand why people would not want it published.

Comment by Joey on Is it better to be a wild rat or a factory farmed cow? A systematic method for comparing animal welfare. · 2018-10-01T17:01:50.362Z · EA · GW

Re:biological markers, the ideal situation would be multiple markers in both the animal in an ideal life vs their current life vs a perfectly unideal life, then scores would be given based on how their current life compares. In practice, sometimes we have found data on a happy life vs a standard life for an animal and can get some sense of how far away these are from each other, but often we have found no applicable data at all for this section. Our reports are very time capped (5 hours or less depending on the importance of the animal), so we do not dive deep into the mechanisms.

Humans from different situations will be ranked as well. I agree having them as a comparative measure for cross-species comparison allows for much easier intuition checks.

Comment by Joey on Is it better to be a wild rat or a factory farmed cow? A systematic method for comparing animal welfare. · 2018-09-18T17:22:38.023Z · EA · GW

Examples coming soon. We are currently aiming to have ~15 done and published by 10/7/18. Our full goal of this project is to create a consistent systematic baseline to quantify the benefits of various interventions which would then allows us to compare specific charity ideas and rank what might be the best few to found within the animal movement. is the closest thing to calculating the value of going vegetarian that I know.

Comment by Joey on Is it better to be a wild rat or a factory farmed cow? A systematic method for comparing animal welfare. · 2018-09-18T17:22:23.087Z · EA · GW

Yes indeed, that is the next step. We plan on applying this system to ~15 animal situations and doing a 1-5 hour report on each. This would be both for different animals (e.g. wild rat and factory farmed cows) and different welfare situations for the same animal (e.g. a report each for battery caged laying hens vs enriched cage laying hens)

On biological markers specifically, from the research we have done so far, it's very hard to find any consistent biological markers, not to mention situations where we have a bunch that we can cross compare on the same animal. Generally a good score might look like “some cortisol tests have been done on rats in an ideal living situation vs wild rats and the cortisol levels are about the same” where if the same study was done but the cortisol levels were much higher in the wild rats, that would be an indication of lower wild rat welfare.

Comment by Joey on Is it better to be a wild rat or a factory farmed cow? A systematic method for comparing animal welfare. · 2018-09-18T17:22:09.156Z · EA · GW

Thanks. Fixed.

Comment by Joey on How to make an impact in animal advocacy, a survey. · 2018-09-03T16:32:30.155Z · EA · GW

Self-identification and stated values. e.g. some people I spoke for said they were and EA/read Singer etc, others mentioned rights-focused ethics.

Comment by Joey on How to make an impact in animal advocacy, a survey. · 2018-08-27T18:09:28.565Z · EA · GW

I have changed the word "rights" to "advocacy" to better reflect the content of the post. The survey was not targeted at rights or welfare particularly. It was just getting a sense of the broad EA animal space.

Comment by Joey on CEA on community building, representativeness, and the EA Summit · 2018-08-15T20:48:21.869Z · EA · GW

Just wanted to chip in on this. Although I do not think this addresses all the concerns I have with representativeness, I do think CEA has been making a more concerted and genuine effort at considering how to deal with these issues (not just this blog post, but also in some of the more recent conversations they have been having with a wider range of people in the EA movement). I think it's a tricky issue to get right (how to build a cause neutral EA movement when you think some causes are higher impact than others) and there is still a lot of thought to be done on the issue, but I am glad steps are happening in the right direction.